How Different Personality Types Deal With Pain

PainI was pondering this morning how personality types have such different ways of handling hurt and pain. I don’t know whether much has been written on this subject, but it might be worth looking at through the lens of psychological type letter clusters, and also placed within the context of the four temperament quadrants to be better understood. And I suggest this order of ops, despite my training in and passion for David Keirsey’s 4 Temperaments, which I believe are the way that personality typing should proceed to obtain the best, most accurate results and the clearest understanding.

As an NT Rational, (iNTj) I experience things linearly in time (J) with my dicem-slicem analytical thinking, (T) which is paired to extremely big picture thinking (NT)- making for a pretty lethal combination when I’ve been hurt. How this plays out in me can work like this…

If someone said something hurtful about me that I think is untrue and unfair, I might take and apply to it all kinds of imagined scenarios and draw broad conclusions (NJ) — like that they’ve probably always felt this way and how stupid it was of me that I thought they ever really respected or liked me, yadda yadda. I frequently take a little ‘blade’ and turn it into a machete that I continually fall on, with imagined worst case scenarios playing over and over in my mind. Despite that I may have believed that what was said was untrue initially, this wouldn’t prevent me from condemning myself obsessively, because I MUST consider all possibilities ! (iNTj) No doubt many people do these things , but I suspect that no combination can throw the baby out with the bath water as well as an iNTj, from my experience. We have lethal weapons at our disposal and can direct them at both ourselves and others with great efficiency.

It’s also my observation that there are many Ns, particularly those who are introverts, who are highly sensitive. I like to think about introverted iNtuition working like a satellite dish receptor that seems to receive the subtlest nuances of others’ emotions – and even intentions – to some degree. They/ we become wounded very, very easily and tend to interpret and dissect others’ motives, which ‘justify’ our getting even. Being a TJ is the ticket to quick judging and blaming ourselves and others.

As I described earlier, Ns who are also Js, experience things in a linear, finite timeline, while simultaneously swimming around within the big picture iNtuitor universe. Unlike Ns who are Ps, the linear micro becomes joined to the universal macro in a very unique way. Our memories are able to recall detailed linear events within a very broad context. But here’s the killer: everything we experience in that way will be ‘filed’ together with our intuitive judgment (NTj) which has analyzed and ‘determined’ its meaning, and can then play judge. These skill-sets become highly developed, in my observation, because all the functions working together can prove to be very accurate and trustworthy over time. With much experience, our ability to accurately intuit, predict and then ascribe motive to others is magnified from having analyzed and interpreted things for their underlying meaning. Add to this to the deep EMOTIONAL wounds driving the process (hurt, anger, getting even, etc.) and we are looking at powerful weapons, make no mistake.

I have been slow on the uptake in seeing how my interpreting things that my family members have said or done has been extremely presumptuous and wrong! It rarely occurred to me when my children were growing up that they did not think, feel or proceed as I would have. No one in our family has the cause-and-effect process of motive and action that I presumed they had, which was based on the erroneous conclusion that everyone operates from the same calculating motives, forethought, judgment and assumptions that I do! We iNTjs can make fine, wise judges – and conversely, have the raw material to mastermind great evil.

This, I think, characterizes one aspect of what David Keirsey calls the “Pygmalion Project”. So, in response, I am working to become more like my opposite type, an SP Artisan ESFP who sees the good in everything first and takes things at face value, rolls with the punches and is universally popular. Well I can dream, can’t I?

Thank you for sharing your genius and for your incredible contribution, David W. Keirsey!

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